I still remember the first time I heard this cover, as I was on a two hour drive, flipping through radio stations. Normally, I just plug in my phone and pick whatever genre or artist I feel like listening to that day, but on that drive I remember I just wanted the radio to decide for me what I would be listening to. I don’t even remember the station but I remember the vocals being distinctly Taylor Swift but the lyrics being distinctly Earth, Wind and Fire. The first thought that came to mind was, “Oh, my gosh, this is OLD”. I instantly flashed back to her first three records which were the most country that she’ll ever be at this point and assumed it was from that time period. But little did I know, that this cover was actually recorded in the same year that I was listening to it.
After I settled down and had a chance to sit and look up the full song, I was completely in shock. For one, the fact that she sounded almost identical to ten years prior was something I could hardly believe. Maybe it’s vocal editing, maybe it’s actual talent, but nonetheless, I don’t even care. Just the fact that she sounded just like when I loved her the most made me think of all the happy memories I have of listening to Fearless or Speak Now. Second, the arrangement and her overall take on the song was absolutely stunning. Opening up with a banjo and going into a soft acoustic version from the song is such a contrast from the original version which is best known for horns and lots of backing instruments. It feels like enough of a distinction to make it a worthwhile cover but it also feels like genuine Taylor Swift.
I heard that apparently many people were upset about this cover when it initially came out and I didn’t understand why. This is a version of a classic song sung in an iconic singers classic style and it could not have been better executed. It’s so well poised, from the instrumental to the vocals and is a song that’s easy to set on repeat. It’s also clear that no matter how many genres Swift migrates in to, or how many changes her music goes through, she can easily go back to how she was when she began as if none of the rest even happened. This is a clear example of that and is something that is so extraordinary in itself.